by Sara Paretsky
In the March 24 New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg riffs on Eliot Spitzer and American Puritans, and includes a long solo from our own Martha Nussbaum on how stupid we are to be so obsessed about sexual peccadilloes, which don't belong in political discourse. After all, as Alan Dershowitz, among many others, explains, prostitution is a victimless crime. Maybe Eliot's in trouble at home, but he shouldn't be in the State House, not for having sex with another consenting adult.
The most reliable studies on women who are prostitutes show that 85 percent remember a history of childhood sexual abuse. They learned from the earliest time in their lives that they didn't have rights, that they existed to be used and abused.
Eliot Spitzer is almost 50; his "consenting" partner was under twenty. Not that there's anything wrong with that, no, because it's a victimless crime.
It's been just about a year since the Supremes ruled that the so-called "Partial-birth" abortion ban was legal. The law includes a clause which makes a doctor performing such an abortion liable for monetary damanges for psychological injury to the woman’s husband and parents. So the law is a model of pre-1960 law, which holds that a woman is the property, either of her parents or of her husband. They own her; that's why they can sue for alleged damage to their property. The law also explicitly omits any exception if a woman's life or health are at stake: fetal life trumps female life as the law of the land.
Yup. No victims here, just pieces of property to be used at the owners' discretion.